For a long time I never understood why Italians used such long (~ 3-4 foot) rolling pins for pasta. I looked online for videos and saw chefs using shorter pins and leaning hard on them as they rolled out the dough. So I also wondered how the little old Italian ladies I had seen in pictures, holding rolling pins nearly as tall as they were, could muster the strength to roll out thin pasta dough. Then I finally saw a video -- it happened to be on the Vermont Rolling Pins site -- showing the real thing:
To give credit where due, the link came from:
This method involves little downward pressure and the gradual stretching of the dough horizontally along the pin as it is rolled and unrolled -- thus the need for a longer pin. It's easy once you've done it a few times. Sometimes a little supplemental rolling with pressure is needed at the end, but not much.
Once I saw this I went to Home Depot and got a 3' length of 1.25" dowel to try it out. Worked fine but then of course I wanted a really nice pin and ended up getting the cherry wood pin from Vermont. Very very nice, and about 1.75" in diameter, which helps. But the main point is, this revolutionized my pasta making (yes, I know, big news...) It's much quicker than doing the same amount with a pasta rolling machine, and you don't have to clean/store a machine when you're done. The pasta has a slightly rougher texture and holds sauce a bit better, too. Finally, because I was used to the output of a pasta machine I used to trim the hand rolled dough into rectagles, wasting some. Then I realized it does no harm to just fold up the circular dough (or half of it, if it's a large piece) and slice it up. Little or no waste.
Anyhow, I wonder how many others are avoiding hand-rolling of pasta because they are as misinformed as I was about how it's really done.
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